The first church on this site of Bern Minster probably was a small chapel built during the founding of Bern (1191). By the 15th century, Bern had expanded and become a major city-state north of the Alps. To celebrate their growing power and wealth, the construction of new church began in 1421.

During the first phase, Matthäus Ensinger, a foreman from Ulm, was in charge of the project. The construction took over 150 years, and generations of foremen, sculptors and stonemasons worked on the important monument. It was hard work and there were strict rules: the main goal of late Gothic architecture was to have a building of predetermined dimension and with as much light as possible. The craftsmen achieved an impressive space by connecting the entire inside space, using a special building technique and carefully proportioning the windows.

In the 16th century, the third stage of the build came to an end. The spire was only 50 metres high, so the Minster looked quite different among the houses of the Old City. Construction had to stop because the ground was not stable and there were some financial problems. Later on, the impressive spire was built in the Gothic style and reached its final height. Switzerland’s largest late medieval church was completed in 1893. It was made almost completely out of Bernese sandstone, with the exception of the top part of the spire.

The most famous feature of the Bernese Minster is the exceptional main portal. Erhart Küng, a sculptor and foreman from Westphalia, made the sandstone masterpiece that depicts the Last Judgement. There are 294 sculptures: prophets, angels with trumpets, Jesus Christ as Judge of the Nations, Lady Justice (added after the Reformation), martyrs and damned souls showed the believers what the day of the Last Judgement would look like.

You can visit the Minster to enjoy the unique ambiance inside the building, listen to the sound of the organs, attend a protestant service, look at the medieval architecture or enjoy the view from the platform at the top of the spire – the church and the spire of the Minster are open daily, year-round. Make sure you check the official opening hours.

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Details

Founded: 1421
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

More Information

www.bern.com
en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

John Otz (2 years ago)
Wonderful view from the very top! Have been twice now! Just make sure to have great weather if possible!
Vlad Feciorescu (2 years ago)
We were passing through Bern and we stopped for a quick visit in the old city. The cathedral is a really nice place to visit. It's the tallest cathedral in Switzerland, so if you happen to be nearby, you have to see it.
Christopher Jarc (2 years ago)
Super place! Was fun going to the top through the old towers. We went when the Christmas market was there so that was cool to see from above ! Was a fun day for sure with some nice sights !
Sam Treves (3 years ago)
Definitely worth a visit. The building is very beautiful and has amazing stained glass windows. If you are feeling brave and can climb stairs then go for a roof top climb. For 5 CHF you can climb the 100 m stair case to view the city and surrounding area from two different levels. Incredible sites can be seen from here and you can spend as long as you want
Jamie Cristofani (3 years ago)
Beautiful cathedral with a nice open space overlooking the River. We were able to see the Christmas markets set up as well, which was lovely albeit very busy. We did not see the inside of the cathedral.
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